ALLEGORY

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Plays from the 1400s-1500s


Allegory - a narrative that can be read as an extended metaphor, in which people, places, ideas, or events

are themselves on one level -- but they are also representations of ideas at a more universal level,

typically moral or spiritual concepts which are more significant than the actual narrative.

The most famous allegory in English is Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678) which describes the adventures

of the human soul as if it were on a journey. Parts of Dante’s Divine Comedy (1310–1314) are also allegorical,

as a traveler (who on one level is Dante, the author) visits the Underworld and is shown varying levels of sinners,

each of whom embody their sins. George Orwell’s Animal Farm (1946) is a political allegory in which the story

of the revolution of the animals on an English farm stands as a critique of both the capitalist democracies of

the West and the totalitarian regime that had grown out of the Communist Revolution in Russia.

In the Middle Ages, the Church outlawed all dramatic productions except "Morality Plays." These were highly

representational productions in which each character was given the name of a human trait or flaw, such as

Honor, Piety, Greed or Evil. The actions of these characters in the play were to be seen as universal stories

that apply to us all -- hence, ALLEGORICAL.

see: fable, morality play, myth, parable, satire





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SYMBOL

A symbol is something that on the surface is its literal self but which also has another meaning, or even several meanings,

that are abstract.

For example, a sword may be a sword... but it also may symbolize justice, violence, or division, based upon how it is used in a story.

There are two general types of symbols: universal symbols that embody universally recognizable meanings wherever used,

such as light to symbolize knowledge, a skull to symbolize death, etc., and constructed symbols that are given symbolic

meaning by the way an author uses them in a literary work, such as the white whale being a symbol of evil in Moby Dick

or the rabbits and mice in Of Mice and Men symbolizing innocence.


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HOW SYMBOLS WORK IN AN ALLEGORY

In a work of allegory, such as The Old Man Who Read Love Stories, characters, settings, objects and events all work

as symbols that uphold the allegorical meaning of the tale.

For example, the village of El Idilio represents all Colonization efforts made by humans throughout history. The Mayor

becomes a symbol of greed, while Antonio Bolivar is a symbol of respectful conservation.